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Full text of "A history of Persia"

3o8                 HISTORY OF PERSIA                CHAP.
Mir Vais.—Gurgin Khan, on his side, was fully aware
of the plot, and determined to strike at its head in
the person of Mir Vais (or Wais, as Afghans would
pronounce it), a leading chief of the Ghilzais and heredi-
tary Kalantar, or Mayor, of Kandahar. Accordingly he
was seized and sent a prisoner to the capital. At the
same time Gurgin wrote that it was necessary for the
peace of the province that this arch-intriguer should be
kept away from Afghanistan. His unusual leniency was
a main cause of the overthrow of Persia ; for Mir Vais
was able through his wealth and his capacity to influence
the Court, and the captive became a favourite of the Shah.
In order to strengthen his position among his fellow-
countrymen, he obtained permission to proceed to Mecca.
There, while performing his pilgrimage, he procured in
writing a decision from the leading doctors of religious
law that it was not only permissible but meritorious to
make war on and to destroy all Shias. Such documents
would even to-day carry immense weight in Afghanistan,
and two centuries ago their potency must have been very
much greater. Upon his return to the capital, Mir Vais
was indirectly aided in his schemes by the embassy of
Peter the Great, recorded in the previous chapter. He
insinuated that it was the intention of that monarch to
seize Armenia and Georgia, and that Gurgin Khan was a
leading conspirator in the plot., The Court, thoroughly
alarmed, dared not dismiss Gurgin Khan, but as a half
.measure restored Mir Vais to his former post and in A.H.
1120 (1708) sent him back to Kandahar.
The Murder of Gurgin Khan and the Massacre of the
Persian Garrison, A.H. 1121 (1709). — Gurgin Khan,
furious at the slight, resolved to take revenge on Mir
Vais, and by this act at once to overawe the province
and to demonstrate his contempt for the Court. Having
heard that the Chief possessed a beautiful daughter, he
suddenly demanded her from her father. The latter
assembled the heads of the tribe, who, moved by indig-
nation, swore death to the Christian tyrant by bread and
salt, by their swords, and by the Koran. Mir Vais
dissembled, and in order to lull his enemy into a sense of